Although thought of as a recent concept, mixed-use developments have been around since humans began to settle. Our primary mode of transport was walking and keeping venues for work, domestic and leisure activities close by was crucial.
During industrial eras we separated manufacturing from residential – understandably so. However, modern times, along with crowded cities have called for a cleaner way of operating and we are returning to a more cooperative way of co-habitating.
Mixed-use development can be defined as any urban, suburban or village development, or even a single building, that blends a combination of residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or industrial uses, where those functions are physically and functionally integrated, and that provides pedestrian connections.1
These type of developments benefit the parking industry in a number of ways.
Firstly, transforming parking garages into mixed-use developments asks developers to think laterally about the outward appearance of the parking facility, making it more attractive to customers. They are also encouraged to incorporate retail and/or leisure facilities that make best use of the facility frontage. And the internal space of the parking facility is not to be forgotten – discerning patrons will not return to a dark underground labyrinth, lighting, heating and ventilation systems need to be tip top.
Secondly, the socio-emotional impact of a pleasant, welcoming, and well considered structure on residents and visitors is most definitely measurable. Parking professionals are now working more closely with architectural firms to create inspirational uses of space in their approach to parking commissions. We all benefit from these collaborations.
Thirdly, mixed-use developments encourage shared parking. A parking garage can now not just serve shopping centre patrons, but also reach out to office workers, event attendees and hotel guests – dependent upon its location. By using accurate research and effective planning, parking garages in mixed–use developments can actively increase their customer base.
I am eager to see how these blended functional areas continue to evolve and how we, as parking professionals respond to the changing requirements of society and how we can proactively set the trends for the future.
1 Business Geography and New Real Estate Market Analysis, Grant Ian Thrall, p.216